|Twins, Rays push reset button ahead of series|
The Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays have more in common than a connection between their managers and their respective status this season as the American League's Cinderella teams.
Both teams really needed the off-day they finally got Monday.
The Twins and Rays will hope 24 hours off did them some good come Tuesday night, when Minnesota hosts Tampa Bay in the opener of a three-game series.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (7-4, 4.18 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Twins against Rays left-hander Blake Snell (4-6, 4.40 ERA).
The Rays continued a 10-game road trip Sunday with an 8-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The host Twins missed a chance to win a four-game series from the Kansas City Royals in a 6-1 loss.
The win was just the second of the trip for the Rays, who suffered a three-game sweep at the New York Yankees last Monday through Wednesday and lost four games in the standings last week to the American League East-leading Yankees. Tampa Bay entered Monday 4 1/2 games behind New York.
But Sunday's victory at least allowed the Rays to get out some of their frustrations before their first off-day since June 3. Tampa Bay was outscored 33-15 in the first six games of the road trip before busting out for 15 hits Sunday, its most in a single game since May 30.
"I don't know if all those hits were a relief to them, but they were a relief to me," Rays manager Kevin Cash said afterward. "Obviously, there was some frustration there. Today, it was hit after hit after hit. It's very encouraging."
The loss for the Twins dropped them to 3-5 in their last eight games and 7-6 since their last off-day on June 10, a span in which Minnesota's AL Central lead over the Cleveland Indians has dropped to eight games -- the closest the Indians have been to first place since May 24.
No wonder Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who spent the previous four seasons on Cash's staff, was looking forward to Monday.
"I think it's good for us to be at home and not come to the ball field," Baldelli said Sunday afternoon. "Physically and mentally, I think our guys deserve it."
Both Gibson and Snell were hard-hit while taking the loss in their previous starts last Wednesday.
Gibson gave up six runs over a season-low 4 1/3 innings as the Twins fell to the Boston Red Sox, 9-4. The six runs tied a season high for Gibson set against the Royals in his first start of the year on Apr. 3.
Snell allowed six runs while recording just one out in the shortest start of his career as the Rays suffered a 12-1 loss to the Yankees. It was only the second time in 89 big league starts Snell has not pitched into the second inning.
Gibson is 3-5 with a 5.22 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays. Snell is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in four starts against the Twins.
--Field Level Media